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ACC Basketball Preview: Clemson

Quick Facts

Record: 19-13, 7-9 in the ACC
ACC Regular Season Finish: 7th
ACC Tournament Result: Lost in 1st Round
NCAA Tournament Result: None. Lost in NIT 2nd Round

Players and Coaches

Head Coach: Oliver Purnell, 3rd year at Clemson, 45-47, 18th year overall, 301-238
Key Returnees: G Vernon Hamilton(12.0 ppg), Cliff Hammonds(10.1 ppg), F/C James Mays(9.2 ppg), G K.C. Rivers(7.1), F Sam Perry(6.3 ppg), F Julius Powell(5.5 ppg)

Preseason Rankings
Poll Rankings: None
ACC Preseason Poll: 9th


On one side Clemson returns a extensive group of experienced players. The Tigers will be led by Vernon Hamilton, the ACC leader in steals last season and Cliff Hammonds who will run the point. Oilver Purnell will also depend heavily on James Mays to handle the bulk of the work in the front court. Mays got off to a great start in 2005 averaging over nine points and seven rebounds before being declared academically ineligible. With the loss of Akin Akingbala, Mays will be looking to step in and be the primary focus of the offense in the paint as well as overcoming the loss of Akingbala' s rebounding production which Clemson led the ACC in on the offensive end. Outside these three known commodities are a handful of players who will be called upon to step up. Sam Perry and Julius Powell will likely round out the front court with K.C. Rivers spelling the starting duo in the backcourt. Unfortunately for Clemson, the current recruiting class is not bringing in any highly touted talent, so unless there is a diamond in the rough among the four freshman Purnell will be looking to his upperclassmen for offensive production. On the defensive side, Clemson has shown the ability to cause problems for opposing teams. The Tigers led the ACC in steals and turnovers forced with 19. Clemson was second in turnover margin. On the other hand Clemson was also the worst in the ACC in field goal defense which essentially means they are very good at defending ball handlers or passing lanes but really struggle when it comes to actually stopping shooters. This is where the presence of Mays, who blocked 1.5 shots per game, will be key.

THF Prediction:

Clemson is Clemson. They have a good group of players but they also face the same talent gap the rest of the lower tiered conference games face. One thing about Clemson is they always seems to sneak up on other teams. Playing at Littlejohn has always been difficult and while Clemson will have a lot of trouble with bigger teams, they are very capable of wreaking havoc on the defensive end. The guard combo of Hammonds and Hamilton provide the Tigers with a nice perimeter game and no one really knows how good Mays will be since he did not play a full season last year. Statistically speaking May showed a lot of potential and could have a breakout year. Overall, the Tigers will surprise some in the middle tier but will really have a tough time breaking the skin against the upper echelon of the conference. They feel like a ninth place team in the ACC but as is the case will every team they are a step-up performance by one or two players of movng up a couple of spots.

Prediction: 17-13 overall, 6-10 in the ACC for 9th place, NIT